No matter the form of intellectual property, you can always find a troll. From patent to copyright there are trolls. These trolls enforce certain copyrights and/or patents for the sole purpose of finding people abusing their intellectual property and sue them. However, in a recent court ruling, one judge has turned the tides on copyright trolls.
In a case where Malibu Media shared information that it discovered that someone had been sharing their “adult films” illegally through a torrent service called BitTorrent. Malibu was able to pinpoint a certain IP address that was responsible for the illegal sharing of their films and wanted to bring the violator to “justice”. The use of the term justice here is a bit subjective. In one way, these trolls like Malibu Media and others have only the sole intention of making money. They only pursue cases where there is money to be made and they even only hold copyrights and patents for monetary gains. One could say that there isn’t really any justice being served here. On the other hand in order for them to actually be able to make money in lawsuits, laws have to be broken.
However, in this specific case the judge decides to turn the tables on Malibu Media. In the case Malibu presented that the company was able to geolocate the IP address and wanted to file a lawsuit against the registered owner of that address. In order to file the lawsuit, Malibu Media needs a subpoena for the internet provider in order to obtain the information of the person registered to that address. For those of you know who don’t know or are not familiar with how IP addresses work, I’ll give you a brief run through. Each time your modem is connected to the internet is obtains a address from your internet provide (comcast, verizon, etc). This IP address is unique to your own network and different versions of this IP address are assigned to all devices connected onto your network. Malibu’s argument was that since these address are unique they would be able to blame one person, this address, of copyright infringement.
The judge in the end ruled that an IP address “does not identify a person”. This is a huge victory over copyright trolls who rely only cases like this to make money. Personally I see this as a step in the right direction regarding copyright law and pirating of media. Simply having an address is not sufficient enough to link a person to a crime. I personally hope that many other judges facing similar cases will choose to act in the same manner as the judge in Florida.
Neal, Dave. “Porno Troll Told to Go Back under Bridge.” – The Inquirer. N.p., 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Smith, Ms. “IP Address Does Not Identify a Person, Judge Tells Copyright Troll in BitTorrent Case.” Network World. N.p., 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.